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22 November 2010
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Contributions and comments are encouraged: see the Contributions Page
This site is dedicated to all our regular contributors and supporters, and especially the all rail staff of North Wales.
Monday 22 November. Shrewsbury-Chester Rail Users Association Public meeting at St Mary's Catholic Club, Regent St, Wrexham starting at 7.30pm. The speaker will be Ben Davies, ATW's Stakeholder Manager North, with the subject as "Railways in Wales - Going Forward", giving a positive message. Followed by a question & answer session. Visitors are welcome.
Thursday 25 November Merseyside Railway History Group Geoff Morris: Steaming through the gauges in the 21st Century
Friday 3 December Clwyd Railway Circle 'Xmas Celebration' - Video review of steam on the main line in 2010 with an interlude of festive goodies.
Monday 6 December RCTS Port Sunlight MEMBERS SHOW. 30 slides or digital images of your choice.
Tuesday 7 December North Wales Railway Circle : Pete Hanahoe & Brain Bollington: Railways of Latvia and other countries.
Thursday 9 December Merseyside Railway History Group Adrian Bodlander: Garratt Steam Safari (to Victoria Falls and beyond!) – Social evening
Friday 10 December Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society
STEAM ACROSS THE ROCKIES a DVD presentation of a steam-hauled special train from Calgary to Vancouver and back by Tony Harrison
Saturday 11 December Rhyl Model Railway Club Charity Model Railway Exhibition in Prestatyn, Parish Hall & guide HQ, 10:30 - 16:00. (Including Charlie Hulme's Austrian narrow-gauge layout)
Tuesday 14 December. 8E Association AGM followed by Jon Penn: Chester Black & White Part 2.
Tuesday 14 December North Wales Railway Circle Christmas 'Do': Members Photos etc.
See the Calendar page for more details.
57 302 Virgil Tracy brings the Saturday London - Holyhead Pendolino through sunny Penmaenmawr station, 20 November (Darren Durrant)
Wrexham events - report by Mark Riley
The North Wales Rail Head Treatment Train has recently seen revised running times, resulting in a daylight view of the train in the Wrexham area, and along the Borderlands line up to Bidston (rather than in the dark early morning hours around 05:00). On November 17 (above), 66 101 leads the train into Wrexham General, returning from Bidston at 15:45, still spraying, in very dull conditions,
66 101 at platform 3 with the wagons and loco looking very grimy. Pathing from Wrexham-Shrewsbury is tight at this time, with the 15:25 Wrexham & Shropshire Wrexham - London Marylebone service being followed by the Arriva Holyhead-Birmingham International, which leaves Wrexham at 15:44.
On the morning of 19 November, the 6M76 Llanwern-Dee Marsh loaded steel coils train was delayed at Hereford, waiting for a relief driver to turn up, and was observed finally passing through Wrexham at 13:20, over 6 hours late, behind 60 013 Robert Boyle. It makes a change to see a Class 60 instead of a 66 on these workings, presumably because EWS currently have a number of Class 66s committed to RHTT workings.
60 013 is seen (above) just north of Wrexham General, awaiting its path up the Borderlands Line, following 15 minutes behind the 13:30 Wrexham -Bidston service. That ghastly and cheap-looking EWS sticker still adorns the body side.
On Saturday 20 November, 67 012 A Shropshire Lad passes Rhosrobin, just north of Wrexham General, with train 1J85 0824 London Marylebone-Wrexham General. The train is seen on the single line between Wrexham and Saltney Junction after being diverted due to engineering work between Shrewsbury and Telford. This resulted in the train being rerouted from Wolverhampton to Crewe, Chester and finally Wrexham. The major consequence of this was that passengers for Gobowen, Chirk and Ruabon had to remain on the train at Wrexham (where it formed 1P03 12:20 Wrexham-Marylebone), and alight at the relevant stations as it travelled southbound. This meant an extended journey time of 40-50 minutes for these passengers. Details of all the diversions and retimed trains for this coming week can be found on the Wrexham and Shropshire Website.
Quoting a Virgin Trains document:
Virgin Trains is to re-form two four-car Class 221 Super Voyager trains to provide greater flexibility and offer consistency in the operation of Birmingham-Scotland and London-Chester-North Wales services which are booked for Class 221 operation.
Virgin Trains currently operates a fleet of 21 Class 221 Super Voyager trains, of which three are four-car sets and the remainder are five-car sets. There is a requirement for 18 sets to be provided for service every day. Over the last year one set has been stopped as part of a bogie overhaul programme without affecting the daily provision of 18 trains.
In order to ensure that all 18 diagrams are covered by five-car trains, a plan has been developed which will see one of the four-car sets disbanded. The two driving cars will be placed into warm storage and the remaining two coaches will be used to strengthen the other four car trains to five-car sets.
Despite the fact that two coaches will be stored, the ability to operate the two additional five-car trains more intensively and with greater flexibility than we have been able to do so as four-car sets will result in an increase in the number of seats provided by the Super Voyager fleet each day.
The plan is that set 221 144 will be disbanded, allowing sets 221 142 and 221 143 to become five-car trains. The formation of these two sets will be
221 142: 60492 60792 60994 60992 60392
221 143: 60493 60793 60794 60993 60393
From 12 December 2010, all Class 221 diagrams will be for five-car sets.
Virgin Trains Chief Operating Officer Chris Gibb said: 'The operation of mixed-sized train fleets is always challenging, having to balance the customer reservation requirements with engineering requirements. In the event of any delays or service disruption it is inevitable that the trains end up on the wrong services which just increases customer complaints. InterCity experienced the same challenges in the 1990s when it operated Pullman and standard sets, which due to the difference in First/Standard seating layouts meant that they had to be restricted to specific workings.'
In case you wonder what 'warm store' means, we think the idea is that they are stored somewhere where the engines can be run and the batteries charged at intervals to avoid any deterioration of the equipment. Numerologists will notice that 221 143 will find itself with two 'shop' coaches (and two names?), one of which will presumably stay closed, so will have fewer seats in total than its sister. Virgin will be unwilling do any major modifications to the coaches as they will need to hand them back in original format when their franchise expires in 2012. Suggestions as branch lines where a 2-car Voyager could be used are probably not welcome...
Merchant Navy visits Chester
35028 Clan Line (with diesel 66 004 attached in case of failure) made a test run (5Z28 10:55 Crewe - Chester) with a support coach from Crewe to Chester and back, following attention at the LNWR works. Above, the ex-Southern Railway pacific (rebuilt by British Railways), ready to depart, at Crewe station (Steve Morris).
Heading round the curve towards Chester (Steve Morris)
Passing Bunbury, sounding excellent, about to shut off for the booked stop at Beeston Castle (Cliff Gallimore).
Passing Beeston at 11:23 (Stavros Lainas)
Hargrave (Andrew Vinten)
Passing Promised Land Lane, Waverton (Jeff Albiston)
Chester (Bob Greenhalgh)
Chester (Andrew Vinten)
Northgate Cutting beyond Chester station, while the consist was reversing by running round the triangle of lines, to return to Crewe. The exhaust from the rear of the tender shows that the steam-powered Westinghouse air brake pump is operating. (Geoff Morris)
The return run at a windy Hargrave (Stavros Lainas). Clan Line is operated is operated by the Merchant Navy Locomotive Preservation Society. For all there is to know about the loco, see the MNLPS website.
Back at Crewe (Tim Fenton). These locos were named for companies which operated ocean liners, and the nameplate shows the company's flag.
Drag and Diverts - report by Stavros Lainas
Some views from the Crewe - Chester line on Saturday 20 November. Above, the Saturday 'Pendolino Drag' with 57 302 Virgil Tracy racing towards Chester passing Hargrave a little early at 10:58.
Next up was a short trip to Bunbury to shoot the Marylebone - Wrexham which was being diverted because of engineering along the Wolverhampton to Shrewsbury line. 67 012 was leading and passed me at 11:42 ...
I then nipped just along to Rope on the outskirts of Crewe to shoot the 11:23 service from Wrexham. Driving Van Trailer 82305 was leading with 67 018 on the rear as it passed at 12:36.
Shotton High Level improved - pictures by Dave Sallery
From the 5 November Daily Post: 'A station which underwent a £1 million face-lift will be officially opened today. Former Alyn and Deeside MP Lord Barry Jones will cut the ribbon on Shotton station’s new ticket office in Flintshire, bringing 18 months of improvements to an end. The programme has been carried out by Flintshire Council, the Welsh Assembly Government and Arriva Trains Wales.
'Shotton councillor Ann Minshull said she was delighted with the improvements. She added: “I have used the station myself and it’s really good to see the improvements made. “The ticket office and machines are new and clean, the waiting room is welcoming and it will be beneficial to Shotton rail users. “I’m really thankful it has been completed.”
'Work at the station has been carried out in two stages, beginning in May last year. The first saw new footpaths, passenger shelters and signage created, as well as a bicycle store, shelter and automated ticket machines. The second phase involved replacing the old brick and concrete ticket office. The new building has a passenger waiting room and service area with electronic departure information screen, a new passenger waiting shelter area and a new platform canopy.'
Funding for the scheme was put up by Taith, the regional transport consortium for North Wales. We would add another bonus for passengers: the long-closed Central Hotel at the bottom of the ramp is now a J D Wetherspoon pub, opened in August 2010.
Train Stay Save on the Cambrian
Mid Wales Tourism (MWT) have teamed up with the Cambrian Railways Partnership (CRP) to develop and promote a new initiative whereby accredited accommodation providers afford visitors who arrive by train a 10% discount. The new TRAIN STAY SAVE initiative was launched at the Mid Wales Tourism Marketing in Partnership Conference held at Y Plas, Machynlleth on 19 November.
The idea is that accommodation providers will benefit through a free and new marketing opportunity to reach a considerable number of potential customers, while discounted accommodation rates will add to the attractiveness of train travel to visitors and potential visitor.
Attractive promotional leaflets, posters and postcards featuring new artwork by Abersoch artist Neil S. Hopkins have been produced by the CRP to promote the initiative and will be widely distributed. These materials refer to an on-line list of participating establishments that is managed by Mid Wales Tourism and available to view at www.visitmidwales.co.uk. Being an on-line list this can be updated
[Note: Gerwyn Jones will be leaving the post of Rail Development Officer with the Cambrian Railways Partnership, initially for a 12 month period, as of late November 2010, to take up a secondment within Gwynedd Council's new Integrated Transport Unit. We wish him well in his new venture.]
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